Yesterday I spent the afternoon talking to 1st year students at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. For many, it’s the first time they have lived away from home. This is the time in their lives when they will learn about themselves. They will discover what type of person they are. They will make important decisions about their futures. Whether they decide to remain in a Bachelor of Arts program or switch to Economics will pave the way for future careers. So early in this experience, I had the privilege to speak to them.
You see, WLU, like many universities across Canada, participates in Shinerama. This is a huge fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis Canada. Nationally last year, they raised over $1 million for Cystic Fibrosis Canada. AMAZING. In order to both educate the 1st year students about cystic fibrosis and motivate them to spend large portions of their orientation week fundraising for us, I got to talk to several groups of students. It was a beautiful experience. The students were engaged. They were listening to my story. They were learning about my little girl- about all that she’s been through and about all that she will face. For me, it was cathartic. I got to share my fears, my hopes, my knowledge, and myself with these strangers.
One of the Shinerama leaders asked me if there was a person or a story that has stuck with me and motivated me. The question was unexpected, and I had to think about it for a bit. Then I looked up at these wonderful students and the answer was clear. It’s the people who have never experienced first-hand what cystic fibrosis means, yet are willing to spend countless hours fundraising for us, that inspire me. They could be sleeping in, getting to know their roommates, figuring out where their classes are. Instead they are running around campus cheering about how they are going to beat CF, washing cars, running BBQs, doing whatever they can for my daughter and the 4000 Canadians with cystic fibrosis. I am left speechless when I think about how awesome these young adults are. It’s easy to imagine why I’M motivated to find a cure, but what keeps THEM coming back year after year to raise funds for cystic fibrosis? In that moment I looked up and into the eyes of the students in that room, and I thanked them. From the bottom of my heart, I thanked them. Their kindness, their time, and their motivation, is what gives me HOPE. Hope for my daughter’s future is what keeps me going.
Thank you Shinerama students for making my daughter’s life longer and happier.